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Coyotes at Penguins preview

Kessel to play in Pittsburgh for first time since trade to Arizona

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

COYOTES (17-9-4) at PENGUINS (15-9-4)



The Game

Phil Kessel will play for the Arizona Coyotes against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time at PPG Paints Arena on Friday.

Kessel spent four seasons with the Penguins, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017, but was traded to the Coyotes on June 29. He has 17 points (six goals, 11 points) in his first 30 games, including two goals in a 3-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.

The Coyotes, who are first in the Pacific Division, have won their past two games and eight of their past 13 (8-3-2). It is the second time in Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets history they've led their division through 30 games, and the first time since 1991-92 when the franchise was in Winnipeg. It moved to Arizona in 1996.

Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz was activated from injured reserve and will be a game-time decision. He's missed seven games with a lower-body injury.

Pittsburgh is on a nine-game home point streak (7-0-2), its longest since winning 11 straight at home from Jan. 7-Feb. 17, 2018.


Players to watch

Coyotes forward Christian Dvorak has six points (two goals, four assists) during an NHL career-long five-game point streak.

Penguins forward Alex Galchenyuk will face the Coyotes for the first time since being part of the Kessel trade. He has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 19 games.


They said it

"[Kessel is] going to get a nice ovation. Pittsburgh fans love him." -- Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet

"It's definitely going to be weird to have [Kessel] not be in the black and gold." -- Penguins forward Bryan Rust

Coyotes projected lineup

Clayton Keller -- Derek Stepan -- Vinnie Hinostroza

Christian Dvorak -- Nick Schmaltz -- Conor Garland

Lawson Crouse -- Carl Soderberg -- Phil Kessel

Michael Grabner -- Brad Richardson -- Christian Fischer

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Jason Demers

Jakob Chychrun -- Alex Goligoski

Jordan Oesterle -- Ilya Lyubushkin

Antti Raanta

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Aaron Ness, Barrett Hayton, Michael Chaput

Injured: Niklas Hjalmarsson (lower body)


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Evgeni Malkin -- Bryan Rust

Dominik Kahun -- Jared McCann -- Stefan Noesen

Zach Aston-Reese -- Teddy Blueger -- Brandon Tanev

Alex Galchenyuk -- Sam Lafferty -- Dominik Simon

Jack Johnson -- Kris Letang

John Marino -- Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Joseph Blandisi, Juuso Riikola

Injured: Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Patric Hornqvist (lower body)


Status report

Ekman-Larsson is expected to play. He missed the final 2:23 against the Flyers on Thursday after being checked into the boards by Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes. ... Rust (lower body) will be a game-time decision. Defenseman Zach Trotman was sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.


Stat pack

Stepan, who needs one assist to reach 300 in the NHL, will play his 700th NHL game. ... Keller has four points (one goal, three assists) during a three-game point streak. ... The Penguins are 6-0-1 against the Coyotes since a 2-1 loss Oct. 10, 2015.

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